Thursday, 2 August 2012

What to look for in a phone answering service

An increasing number of businesses are choosing phone answering services to field some or even all of their calls, before clients are passed on to the appropriate agent.

There are some significant advantages to this if you find the right service, so here is what you should look out for:

24/7 phone answering service
Making your company accessible 24 hours a day could increase sales and enquiries hugely and there are firms offering this as a service for you.

Calls directed properly
Make sure calls get put through to the correct people as part of a great customer service experience and to increase the efficiency of your business.

Never miss a call
With an answering service you can ensure that your firm never misses a call – ever.

Excellent customer service
A phone answering service can help improve your customer service standards and this in turn should bring in more clients.

If you are interested in a call handling and phone answering service follow this link for more information on the benefits.

Individual Voluntary Arrangement – Reading The Warning Signs

In terms of keeping on top of finances, many experts suggest we are ‘financially illiterate’ and that there needs to money management lessons. Many people in debt will use an individual voluntary arrangement to tackle money woes.

Many who find that their debt problems have gone too far and have become unmanageable will rely upon an individual voluntary arrangement (IVA) to help tackle their debts. A report by the British Bankers’ Association (BBA), however, is calling for a drive to tackle what they term as ‘financial illiteracy’ in the UK. They hope that by addressing this issue, the numbers who face bankruptcy through poor debt management will fall.

Individual Voluntary Arrangement – Staying debt free as easy as ‘A, B, C’?

Debt in the UK results from a number of facts but the BBA believe that by educating consumers on money management matters will have a profound effect on preventing more from falling into debt. The report conducted by the BBA found that a substantial proportion of the UK population were incapable of handling their finances in an effective manner and that action must be taken to remedy this fact. Experts in the finance industry often suggest that an individual voluntary arrangement (IVA) is a good way to tackle debt problems if they have gone too far and need to be addressed right away. The BBA are hoping that through re-education, they can intervene before things reach this stage.

Individual Voluntary Arrangement – Making A Debt Management Plan

For those who are serious about breaking free from the shackles of debt, one of the key steps that needs to be taken is to start living within one’s own means. There are an ever increasing number of cases where people are spending more on credit card payments and expenditures than they are earning each month. When it gets to this stage, it may well be advisable to seek a financial resolution such as an individual voluntary arrangement which is a legally binding agreement between an individual’s creditors and themselves and presents a pre-determined timeframe to pay back debts at a level that is financially achievable to them.

Commercial and business signs: What they say about you

If you are thinking about getting a new commercial or business sign, make sure you choose carefully

As a businessman, have you ever stopped to consider what your business sign says about your company? Commercial and business signs have a lot more impact on people’s impression of your company than you may think. If you think about it, we make judgements subconsciously or consciously about names all the time; we are probably all guilty of making prejudging a person simply because of what their name is; there may even be situations when we actively choose certain people over others because we think they have a better-sounding name.

When it comes to commercial and business signs and health & safety signs, we are no different. That’s why it’s important if you are a business owner to look objectively at your sign and graphics to see whether they convey the image you want. Commercial and business signs are one of the main ways that passers by become aware of a business. In fact, small, independent businesses will pretty much rely on this as a way of getting noticed, so it’s vital that the business sign reflects not only what sort of company you are, but also the type of work culture you have.

It goes without saying that you whatever type of commercial or business sign you have, you should always keep it well maintained and looking smart. Your business sign is the first thing that customers see, even before the front door, so it should be kept clean and cared for at all times. Having a shabby, unkempt sign in front of your building will tell customers or clients that you don’t care about your business, making a good impression or paying attention to detail.

Commercial and business signs – what you should consider

Whether you are starting a new business and you need a business sign or you are assessing the efficacy of your current commercial sign, here are some general points to consider:

  • Target audience - A sign with a business name only is designed to create awareness of the company and to identify its location, whereas an “On Sale Now” banner outside a retail location is designed to attract shoppers.
  • Purpose – What is the sign for? Is it to direct people to the business’ offices or is to raise brand awareness?
  • Image - a law firm typically wants to project a conservative, stable image, while an advertising agency will want a more creative, even whacky, image.
  • Restrictions – Check any restrictions that the local authority may have put on sign sizes and colours etc. You can get information on sign ordinances by calling the building or permitting department of the local authority.

Tuesday, 19 June 2012

Telemarketing and Breaking the Code

Companies need to ensure their telesales and telemarketing techniques abide by the DMA Code of Practice, or risk a damaged reputation. Consumer data must be protected and leads must be obtained in an ethical manner through companies like

Telesales and telemarketing can be intrusive if done poorly, alienating customers and causing upset. The Direct Marketing Association regulates contact centres ensuring they comply to the DMA's Code of Practice. And to achieve the stamp of approval from the Direct Marketing Association, members need to complete the Annual Member Compliance Forms. The telemarketing agency Wye Marketing based in Hereford however did not hand in their compliance forms for the year ending 31 December 2007. As a result, the telemarketing company's membership to the Direct Marketing Association (UK) has been terminated.

Telesales and Telemarketing Industry Abide by the Code

James Kelly, the managing director of the Direct Marketing Association underlined the importance of telelmarketing and telesales firms to complete the annual compliance form: “Our Code of Practice is the cornerstone in our efforts to build and maintain political, commercial and consumer faith in direct marketing.” It's vital telemarketing companies therefore show they are abiding by the Code by completing the annual compliance forms.

Wye Marketing Telemarketing Group's Membership Terminated

Being expelled from the DMA UK could be damaging for a telesales company. Wye Marketing were given 'every opportunity' to complete the compliance paperwork. But the company failed to respond to requests to complete the forms. The Direct Marketing Commission then reviewed this potential breach of the Code of Practice. After giving the telemarketing group two more chances to submit the forms, as well as sending out a final letter, the DMA finally decided to terminate the telemarketing group's membership.

Compliance to the Code

Compliance to the Code demonstrates to the telemarketing industry that practitioners are meeting the highest standards (outlined by the Code) when it comes to their direct marketing activities. Non-compliance is taken seriously and the expulsion of the Wye Marketing telesales group was hoped to send out a message to the industry. Matti Alderson, chairman of the Direct Marketing Commission said that compliance to the DMA Code is a, “prerequisite of responsible business practice.”

Buying a Digital Camera – what to look for

A brief guide to what to look for in your digital camera and how to decide what’s best for you. To find out more visit

So, you’ve decided to buy a digital camera, but you take one look at the variety available and panic. How will you know what you want? Here are some things that you will need to take into consideration.

Before you buy a digital camera, think about what you want to use it for. If you are simply replacing the normal camera you use on holiday, then you can probably go for a compact or supercompact digital camera that will fit in your pocket or your bag and where you can take snaps that can be downloaded onto your PC and re-produced as standard 4x6 prints. These cameras are lightweight and have reasonable features and picture quality, and don’t cost the earth the buy.

If you want to be a little more adventurous with your pictures, you will need something with more features, optical zoom and more megapixels. The number of megapixels determines the quality of picture you end up with so although for basic photography, 2 or 3 megapixels will give you the quality you want, you’ll need 4-5 megalpixels if you want to produce good quality cropped pictures or use them for websites or professional literature.

More serious photographers who have been used to standard cameras with zoom lenses and F-stops will want to look at the more serious digital cameras – those that look like standards, and that definitely won’t fit in your pocket. They’re a lot more expensive – going from serious cameras at around £500 to digital SLRs costing thousands – but they have masses of features that will help you to take outstanding pictures.

Even if you’re buying your digital camera on-line, take half and hour to go and try some out for weight and feel – check that they’re comfortable to hold and that you can easily reach the controls. Before you buy, check about battery type and life – most digital cameras come with rechargeable batteries, but check that they also come with a charger and get some spare batteries so that you’re never stuck without power. Also check that the digital camera is compatible with your PC and that the download time’s reasonable, and think about getting an additional memory card or stick so that you can store more photos.

Prevent Breakdowns with a Stress Free Guide to Printer Maintenance

If you are looking for affordable printers or parts, the chances are your printer has broken down. This can be detrimental to a company and can be the cause of unnecessary costs. Here is a guide to avoiding future breakdowns by keeping your printers in tip top shape.
Regular maintenance under a printer lease with companies like Paragon Document Solutions can help to prolong the life of your printers; here are three tips to keep your printers in top working order.

Printer jams-If you are experiencing printer jams on a regular basis, there could be a number of reasons for this. Many printers are often in need of repair due to the inability to handle a paper jam. Paper jams can be avoided in many cases simply by reading about your printer. Often the wrong size paper is used or it is being fed into the printer incorrectly. If a paper jam does occur, try turning off the power and switching it on again before you attempt to remove the paper. If this does not work, attempt to remove the paper with care and be careful not to use too much force.
Don’t dry out-If your printer is performing poorly it could be because the ink is drying out. However, there are ways to stop this from happening and you can do this simply by using your printer on a regular basis.
Cleaning-In order to ensure your printer is performing well you must clean it on a regular basis. Make sure the exterior is free from dust and particles as this can affect the print quality.

Teeth Whitening, Boob Jobs and Sheep

If you’ve won the lottery you’ve definitely got something to smile about – it’s not surprising teeth whitening is one of the most common procedures that the big winners opt for. To find out more visit

If you won the lottery what would you buy? The mind boggles. Millions of us who buy a lottery ticket every week will indulge in that very thought. And the answers will be as diverse as the unique individuals we are. A new book on how lottery winners spend their money certainly reveals this to be true – with everything from a new pair of knees to a flock of sheep on the shopping list. But there are a few things that remain consistent for many winners: property and teeth. The majority of winners all buy a new home or invest in a property abroad. But they also invest in themselves, splurging on cosmetic surgery – the most popular of all being teeth whitening.

Teeth Whitening – Top of the List

Perhaps it isn’t surprising that teeth whitening procedures are such a popular option for those who want to spend a little money on their well being. Unlike other cosmetic procedures, teeth whitening is non intrusive and non surgical. It is relatively straightforward but can have an enormous impact on a person’s confidence and smile. And let’s face it; if you’ve won the big bucks you’re going to want to love smiling – a lot!
People often dream of what they’d buy if they won the lottery, but teeth whitening and property are inevitably on the top of the wish list. But there are some more unconventional purchases than holidays, designer clothes, luxury homes and cosmetic dentistry. According to the book ‘We Won the Lottery’ the most unusual things bought included a Robin Reliant, a flock of sheep, a pair of new knees, a whisky factory and a ‘Lady’ title in order for the winner to get a seat in the best restaurants!

Cosmetic Procedures – Living the Dream

Other bizarre stories in the book include that of a grandfather who used his winnings to take his great grandson to the school prom in style – in a helicopter. One winner opted for a less materialistic approach and bought a wood. But one in four winners will spend some of their winnings on cosmetic surgery – teeth whitening, breast enlargements, liposuction and eye laser treatment were the most popular treatments.
The book also revealed that winners on average take a month off to come to terms with their new found wealth before splashing out on a luxury shopping trip, buying presents for friends and family and taking a holiday in the Caribbean.

Gas Training Helps Unemployed Find Jobs

Whether you are looking to change your career or struggling to find a job, you could receive gas training to help you develop employable skills and become an engineer within the gas and electrical industry. A CV writing service can also prove invaluable when hunting for the perfect position.

During a recession it is a difficult to find a job let alone a career that will train you up with the skills you need to be employed on a long term basis. Quality courses in gas training can provide the answer by gaining employable skills to help you start your new career as an engineer.
Get Skilled
When you are learning valuable career skills within a hands-on industry it is essential that the training includes both theoretical and practical applications. Your knowledge and expertise can only develop with the experience you gain from a well-structured training regime at a reputable training centre. A good training provider will ensure you have all the necessary skills and experience to be employed within the gas and electrical industry.
It is essential you find the right training centre that is dedicated to helping you get on the career ladder with tailor-made training programs and continuously updated learning platforms to ensure that you receive the most up to date training as a Gas Engineer, Domestic Electrical Installer or Electrician.
Earn More
Many people do not realise that gas engineers and electricians earn significantly more than other professions even surpassing some doctor and lawyer salaries. So there is no need to invest in an expensive and often ineffective university degree when you can receive gas training to work in the gas and electrics industry. With such great rates of pay, the gas and electrics industry attracts a wealth of people from all backgrounds who want to re-train to help themselves become successfully employed in rewarding jobs.
A Versatile Vocation
The current demand for electricians and engineers has led to a range of different people joining the profession. The great thing about the industry is that it is something that men and women of different ages can benefit from and enjoy working in a rewarding job that has financial perks. Whether you are a school leaver or a recently retired worker, whatever background you have come from you it is never too late or too early to benefit from comprehensive gas training that gives you the best start to your new career.

Wednesday, 23 May 2012

Incentives in Contact Centres for a Happy, Healthy Staff

Incentives have always been crucial in contact centres, and focusing on the well being of employees clearly pays off. To find out more visit

Incentives are built into the fabric of successful contact centres. When it comes to sales and telemarketing, a happy, healthy staff can make that crucial difference. And one organisation that understands the importance of incentives is Garlands. Garlands has four prestigious contact centre locations in the UK as a leading provider of outsourced customer contact services via phone, email and the Web. Garlands works for a number of UK blue chip companies.

Incentives – The Secret of Success

Garlands has four contact centre locations - Hartlepool Marina, Middlesbrough, Stockton and South Shields, and the company is planning to open a fifth site in South Africa. These call centres create a call handling capacity of 36 million every year. And with annual sales reaching £48.6m a year (as of Oct 2007), incentives are the secret of their success. It's a staggeringly successful contact services company, employing 3,000 people in the North East. And Garlands put their success down to their philosophy which revolves around employee incentives, including:

l  The importance of stimulation and development for employees, as well as respect for all staff
l  To ensure employees perform at their best by supporting them with the best technologies
l  As well as personal incentives, Garlands create motivational environments that promote teamwork
l  To deliver exceptional customer service

The companies who use Garlands' contact centres can be assured these core values offer them quality and value. And Garlands realise that incentives for staff and investing in staff is central for the success of any contact centre. In the Spring of 2008, the company launched a Healthy Living campaign. And the move has proved a big hit with staff. Healthier employees are happier, capable and motivated. The campaign therefore focused on helping to prevent chronic disease by encouraging staff to:

l  Cut down and quit smoking
l  Increase or incorporate exercise into their lives
l  Adopt healthier diets
l  Reduce or have increased awareness of alcohol consumption
l  Recognise and manage stress

The Incentives of Healthy Living for Contact Centre Staff

The incentives of healthy living are clear: to achieve a slimmer, more attractive figure, to be physically fit and healthy, and to live a longer life, maximising quality of life. Garlands promoted the Healthy Living campaign with effective internal communications such as using posters, e-mail and the intranet, and through GaGa (the company's own radio station). As well as diet, smoking cessation and alcohol awareness, the company also highlighted safety in the sun and sexual health to its contact centre employees. Partnerships with local health providers has also meant the contact centre staff had plenty of incentives to opt into the Healthy Living campaign, offering free sexual health advice clinics, sports development programmes, health checks at local gyms and alcohol awareness clinics.

Homeworking – A Flexible Approach for Contact Centre Employees

Homeworking is being investigated by Creative Sheffield as a flexible alternative for contact centre services to complement office space in London.

Homeworking is an increasingly common trend across all sectors, for businesses across the UK. As employment law shifts to accommodate family life, flexible homeworking is being built into the very fabric of working life. And even in sectors traditionally associated with offices and team work, such as the contact centre industry, homeworking is being considered.

The Digital Home Working Initiative

Creative Sheffield – the city economic development company – has spearheaded ambitious plans to create a legion of entrepreneurs in the city who will offer contact centre services from their own homes. The scheme is called The Digital Home Working initiative; individuals interested in spear heading their own customer service or contact centre services in their homes will be supported by Creative Sheffield to do so. It's a visionary attempt to bring homeworking into the contact centre sector, and Creative Sheffield will offer not just skills and training for homeworking schemes, but business investment and start-up advice.

Homeworking Pilot Scheme Kicks Off

The homeworking initiative for contact centres kicked off with a pilot scheme involving 50 people, with the plan to expand the scheme into a two-year programme involving up to 1,000 people interested in homeworking. Creative Sheffield is bolstering its homeworking initiative by putting out to tender for an experienced contact centre, customer service centre or telemarketing supplier to help provide a routing link between the service providers and end user clients.

Homeworking: Flexible and Efficient

The homeworking scheme could be adopted across the UK if the initiative is a success. Creative Sheffield is ensuring the pilot is given the best opportunity possible by providing homeworkers who set up their own contact centres with the necessary IT equipment and infrastructure for professional call handling. John Hudson is the Director of Enterprise and Skills at Creative Sheffield, he said in a press release that the home working scheme was an attempt to overcome some of the difficulties the contact centre/ customer service sector faces in-house. The homeworking schemes aim is to provided more flexibility and greater efficiency. Mr Hudson said: “The home working model is more flexible and readily accommodates the graveyard shifts and weekends. We aim to match supply to demand more closely. Improving the working environment for people leads to increased reliability and greater productivity. Importantly, operating overheads for virtual call centres are significantly lower.”

Friday, 11 May 2012

Print management – what’s involved?

So what exactly can print management do for you?

Whether you’re streamlining your role, looking for someone to take print management responsibility off your hands, or you’re expecting your company’s print requirements to increase in the future and you want someone to manage it for you, you need to know more about print management. To find out more visit

What is print management?

Print management is a service offered by many printers across the UK. Its purpose is to help you achieve the best print results possible at the best cost. By looking both at your individual print jobs and at your overall requirements, printers can ensure that your documents and brochures are printed to the highest standards without you constantly being involved:

  • One job at a time – print management experts know that every job is important to you, which is why they operate on a job-by-job basis. Each print requirement is looked at in detail to see where cost and time savings can be made and to look for the best ways to produce the document to the highest standards. You’re consulted along the way, but good print management allows you to remain hands-off.

  • From design to print – print management starts working for you the moment you make an enquiry. You may not have even begun to design your document yet, but talking to print managers before you do could help you to get things right from the start. If you talk through your thoughts with your printer, they’ll be able to give you invaluable help and advice that can influence the way you approach your project. From this initial conversation to the time the finished job lands on your desk, your print management adviser is there to help.

  • Your total print requirement – whilst you’ll always get help and advice on each job you undertake, pro-active print management means that you’ll also get the benefit of more general help and advice. Reducing the quality of your paper stock may help to save money, and outsourcing labelling or envelope-filling may make things more efficient. Where your print management adviser sees an opportunity for a more efficient process, they’ll let you know.

If you want to find out more about print management and how it can help you to save time and even money, talk to a specialist printer today. If you’re new to the printing environment, choosing a print management expert will help you to get your brochures or mailings underway with the minimum amount of fuss. If you’re a seasoned print or marketing manager, using print management will help to free up your time so that you can concentrate on your campaigns and their results.

Print Management – Things to Look for from Print Management Experts

Many companies will decide to outsource their print management during 2012 but there are many print management specialists on the market so it’s important to ensure that they offer what your business requires to grow from e brochures to flyers.

The cost of maintaining print procedures is growing in the modern work environment and, if left unchecked, many companies will discover that their printing procurement costs have spiralled out of control. With this in mind, more and more businesses are turning to print management professionals to evaluate their procurement methods and implement a more cost effective means of creating print media and managing marketing campaigns such as direct mail marketing. The type of print management that a company requires is largely dependent on the size of the company concerned and the type of print media that they typically produce. However, those companies looking to employ the skills of print management professionals should ensure that they provide the right type of services and will be able to successfully dovetail with the overriding business principles of the company in question.

Print Management – Elements to Consider

As an ever growing number of companies employ the services of print management professionals, it is important to make sure that the right choice is made and, generally speaking, most print management companies will provide services such as the following:

  • Ongoing support and management – Generally speaking, print management experts will take full control of the printing processes of their client and this includes providing extensive support and administration. They will also be on hand to answer any print related problems or queries that their clients may have.
  • Specific pricing models – Print management providers will be able to offer a variety of pricing plans that can be carefully tailored to suit the needs of each specific client. By utilising a pre-approved printing budget, print management professionals can ensure that print media costing doesn’t spiral out of control.
  • Assessing documents – First and foremost, print management experts will be able to take stock of a company’s requirements when it comes to print management and formulate a proposal that provides high quality print media at a price that is considerably more cost effective than would otherwise be the case.